BMC Palliative Care (2020-10-01)

A mixed-method evaluation of a volunteer navigation intervention for older persons living with chronic illness (Nav-CARE): findings from a knowledge translation study

  • Barbara Pesut,
  • Wendy Duggleby,
  • Grace Warner,
  • Paxton Bruce,
  • Sunita Ghosh,
  • Jayna Holroyd-Leduc,
  • Cheryl Nekolaichuk,
  • Jasneet Parmar

DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-020-00666-2
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 1
pp. 1 – 16

Abstract

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Abstract Background Volunteer navigation is an innovative way to help older persons get connected to resources in their community that they may not know about or have difficulty accessing. Nav-CARE is an intervention in which volunteers, who are trained in navigation, provide services for older persons living at home with chronic illness to improve their quality of life. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of Nav-CARE on volunteers, older persons, and family participating across eight Canadian sites. Methods Nav-CARE was implemented using a knowledge translation approach in eight sites using a 12- or 18-month intervention period. A mixed method evaluation was used to understand the outcomes upon older person engagement; volunteer self-efficacy; and older person, family, and volunteer quality of life and satisfaction with the intervention. Results Older persons and family were highly satisfied with the intervention, citing benefits of social connection and support, help with negotiating the social aspects of healthcare, access to cost-effective resources, and family respite. They were less satisfied with the practical help available for transportation and errands. Older persons self-reported knowledge of the services available to them and confidence in making decisions about their healthcare showed statistically significant improvements (P < .05) over 12–18 months. Volunteers reported satisfaction with their role, particularly as it related to building relationships over time, and good self-efficacy. Volunteer attrition was a result of not recruiting older persons in a timely manner. There was no statistically significant improvement in quality of life for older persons, family or volunteers from baseline to study completion. Conclusions Findings from this study support a developing body of evidence showing the contributions volunteers make to enhanced older person and family well-being in the context of chronic illness. Statistically significant improvements were documented in aspects of client engagement. However, there were no statistically significant improvements in quality of life scores even though qualitative data illustrated very specific positive outcomes of the intervention. Similar findings in other volunteer-led intervention studies raise the question of whether there is a need for targeted volunteer-sensitive outcome measures.

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